Gymnopedie No. 1 — Erik Satie

11 09 2010

Gymnopedie: ceremonial choral dances perfomred at ancient Greek festivals. (from the Three Gymnopedies for the piano book, published by Schirmer, Inc.)  Composed by Erik Satie, the first gymnopedie has the instructions, lent et douloureux — slowly and mournfully.  And as I’m still sad from the loss of my friend as well as the anniversary of 9/11, I thought this might be appropriate.

Just listen and relax…

Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum — Claude Debussy

7 09 2010

Ah, what a classic piece this one is.  I’ve heard it for many years and know friends who can play it but it was only very recently that I actually taught it to myself on a whim.  Now, it’s one of the most fun pieces I play on the piano.  It just sounds so happy and cheerful and the sixteenth notes combined with the fast tempo make it challenging but impressive.

Maybe I’ll post a video of me playing this one sometime but for now, here’s one of many, many versions of this piece on youtube, performed by Michelangeli (I don’t know who that is… and now I feel kinda bad for not knowing because I feel like I should know.  Oh well)

“Dawn” — Dario Marianelli

24 08 2010

From the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack is one of the main themes of the film.  Composed by Dario Marianelli (who later won an Oscar for writing the music for Atonement), “Dawn” is one of the prettiest compositions I’ve heard from Mr. Marianelli.  Partly why I’m posting this here now is because I just finished playing it on the piano and I didn’t know what else to put here.  But it’s good!  Take a listen for yourself.

Claire de Lune — Claude Debussy

13 08 2010

One of the most well-known “Classical” pieces, Claire de Lune has made its way into pop culture with its uses in movies such as Atonement (fantastic movie while I mention it now), mentioned in books like Twilight (apparently, from what I googled just now), and in that car commercial that appeared a couple months ago.  Despite it being overplayed and overused today, I can honestly say it is one of the most beautiful, evocative pieces I have ever heard and it will likely remain one of the few pieces I can listen to over and over again and never get tired of.  I think it is one of the most beautiful compositions ever written and its versatility in how it is used is remarkable as well.

I mainly listen to Jean-Yves Thibaudet’s version from the Atonement soundtrack but I came upon this version just now and thought it was also spectacularly played.  Not sure who plays this one but it’s fantastic, and has clips from Atonement as well.  Enjoy!  (and if you don’t, then there’s something wrong with you — perhaps you’re a cyborg?)

Intermezzo Op. 26, No. 4 — Robert Schumann

9 08 2010

Back when I was playing RCM stuff and having piano lessons, I started learning this piece but it was pretty difficult with me and I never finished learning it.  In one of my feature screenplays I wrote that features a lot of Classical music, the main character plays a “hard-sounding Schumann piece” and at the time, I didn’t know what piece it should be.  Then I remembered this one, and it seemed to fit what was going on.

Maybe I’ll start playing it again.  It seems like a killer for the right hand though — so many 16th notes, ugh.  Enjoy!

The Last Waltz — Oldboy soundtrack

8 08 2010

I had a dream last night where I was playing clarinet to this piece so it seems like I should write a little about it.  Basically, I was in high school again and I was trying out a bunch of different clarinets and when I picked mine up, the tip was a little broken, which isn’t that uncommon but obviously it’s better not to play with a broken reed.  Then the orchestra started playing “The Last Waltz”, a piece from the soundtrack to the movie Oldboy, and since there’s a clarinet solo in it, I had to play it.  Unfortunately, I haven’t played in a long time so I didn’t know the right fingering for the notes, if at all any, but I knew how it should’ve sounded

Anyway, I realized that dream wasn’t very interesting and I should just post the thing.  Okay here it is.

Impromptu Op. 142, No. 2 — Franz Schubert

6 08 2010
There are few “Classical” compositions that make me cry, and this is one of them.  I first heard this piece in a German movie called 4 Minutes, about a woman in jail who is a gifted pianist and a music teacher who prepares her for a concert.  Good movie, but maybe I’m just biased because I like movies with good music in them.
Anyway, this was played in the film and it made me tear up then, right in the theater, which was surprising.  For a while, I didn’t know what the name of the piece was or who composed it.  Luckily, I was able to remember the distinct melody in the beginning and one day while flipping through my Grade 9 piano book, I came across a piece that sort of looked like it and when I played it, man, was I happy to have found it.
There are bunches of different musicians playing it on youtube, some playing it faster, some slower.  I prefer this one, played by Vladimir Sofronitsky because it’s the closest to how I interpreted the piece.  Enjoy!

Ballade No. 1 – Frederic Chopin

10 06 2010

One of the juggernauts of not only Chopin’s works but of the Romantic/Baroque era.  Also, it’s hard to play.  I’m learning to play it and I’m stuck on the fifth or sixth page (out of 9?  I don’t even know!). It’s also the featured in the brilliant film The Pianist, where Adrian Brody’s character plays the piece in the abandoned house to the German solider at night.  Super awesome stuff.


Deuxieme Annee V; Sonetto 104 del Petrarca — Franz Liszt

4 03 2010

As a lover of Classical music, I feel it is only appropriate I also post some music I love in addition with my own.  Only a few minutes ago, I listened to this piece while doing my French homework and it made me really love this piece all over again.

I especially love the augmented chords and the loudness of it.  Fantastic stuff.

Allegro Con Fuoco

18 01 2010

Something I very quickly formed in a day for my Creative Writing Poetry class.  There’s a screencap of the original scrap of paper I scribbled on since I don’t even have a camera to take a picture of it.  (Seriously.)  This is only the first draft so if you don’t understand it all, don’t worry — it’s not that you’re stupid.  At least not this time.


First draft of Allegro con Fuoco poem

Allegro Con Fuoco

Fast with fire,
his hands are matches,
striking the wooden keys, trying to set them ablaze.
Though his father speaks of final preaching,
there always suddenly, subito, seems to be a repeat sign and it begins all over again,
a leitmotif no one wants to listen to.
Smooth slurred words, striking the hammers in his son.
The young man wishes his own speech tumbled out as he played,
as legato and articulated as the sixteenth notes,
that if only his father’s words were as flat as the key signature and as quiet as pianississimo.

His father, a permanent face over his shoulder,
Shaking his head in disappointment with every mistake.
Always pushing, never listening.
Sforzando! Marcato, marcato!
His fingers stretch to meet the octaves, banging on the delicate keys,
like a strongman game–
except the prize is his dignity and pride.

Every one of his words has been sotto voce,
mumblings underneath his breath while his father spews on like a cadenza, uninterrupted.
But with his music, his fingers agitated,
the notes are no longer just staccato, guillotined.
Purposely and furiously jabbing each note tenuto;
his music and words played to their merited length at last.

Back hunched and hands pressed firmly on keys,
the last enraged chord shouts out,
while his father only plays indefinite bars of rest.